Should browsing the internet replace earning a university degree? According to Bill Gates, free lectures and information on the web “will be better than a single university,” in comments he made at the Techonomy conference in Lake Tahoe, CA on August 6, 2010 (TechCrunch.com). He went on to state that while traditional educational institutions are vital for grades K-12, post-secondary education is too expensive and too difficult to make getting a conventional degree worth it. Gates argues that the availability of free internet lectures and the sheer amount of online information can provide a better learning environment for people to pursue their passions than a traditional degree program can.
While Gates’ argument is compelling, he doesn’t address freelance internet study’s primary weakness – diversity. One of the great things about the internet is the ability to tailor news and entertainment to your own individual interests. However, if your education is centered around studying your primary interests, then you are unlikely to expand your knowledge beyond your comfort zone. Why would you waste your time learning about something you find boring, when you could download a streaming video on a subject you truly enjoy? One of the hallmarks of traditional degree programs is the range of classes required to graduate. While completing general education requirements, you are exposed to a wide variety of classes and subjects, all designed to push you beyond what you would study on your own, and to challenge your opinions by presenting information you normally wouldn’t read. This exposure to unfamiliar material is critical to developing critical thinking and reasoning skills, and has the potential to uncover unexpected passions and strengths.
The internet has revamped the approach to traditional education – most universities offer many classes if not entire degrees online. With more students working while in school or going back to school while in careers, the internet can help make furthering your education a reality. Online degree programs offer the best of both worlds – a variety of classes to expand your education, and the convenience of online course delivery to fit your busy schedule. Check out what online education options are available today!